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No Lease Required If Building Has Less Than Six Apartments

If you are a landlord of residential property with less than six apartments, you do not have to offer prospective tenants a lease or renew those of tenants who already live in your building. Over the 20+ years that I have been involved in this field, I cannot remember a single time that a lease worked to protect a landlord in a residential setting. If you have a good tenant, you want to keep them. If you have a bad tenant, you don’t. This is true whether there is a lease in effect or not and is probably one of the most key factors in managing a small property.

Generally, a lease outlines the duration of a tenant’s occupancy, the amount of rent due each month that the lease is in effect and the rules that both parties must observe for the duration of the tenancy. This means that the tenant has the right to remain at the property for the length of the lease as long as s/he abides by the terms of the lease. If those terms are broken to the extent that you wish to have the tenant removed you will have to go to court and it will be your burden to prove that the breach has occurred. If you are successful, the tenant will usually have an opportunity to cure the behavior before you will be allowed to evict.

On the other hand, if there is no lease and you wish to evict a tenant, you can. Period. As long as your basis for eviction is not an illegal one such as discrimination, there are no defenses to this kind of action and you can be sure of an outcome in your favor.